I’m busy today, with stuff to do, so I only have time for some quick thoughts. Don’t forget these are from someone who hasn’t been to a game since the season opener. And don’t forget Pete Sixsmith has already done us his usual masterly report, which you’ll find at this link.


It was another unfamiliar lineup for me as there were 6 changes from the team that started the season and although I had an unencumbered view of the pitch I was low down and struggled to see what was happening on the far side. So once again I had to spend the first half working out who was who and what each role was. I’d say I failed at that task with four exceptions.

I can recognise Catts at a glance. Maybe I looked for him more than others because of that but I’d say held the middle together well, did everything expected of him simply and effectively, and was there when he was needed. Calm and commanding, he exerted an influence of the game from start to finish and he never looked like getting into trouble after his customary early booking. I’m tempted to say well done that man but perhaps he should avoid the early yellow before he fully earns any such award.

Sinclair was busy and looked sharp(ish). He moved between wings to good effect and gave their defence some trouble, but didn’t get many chances and didn’t play in a lot of others. Not for lack of trying or want of skill, it was just that kind of scrappy game, especially in the first half, and our midfield didn’t have the kind of grip required to build waves of attacks and feed strikers.

needs a rest

Maja looked tired and off the pace, which is not to say he wasn’t willing to go for the ball or try to do things with it. He was, but to little effect. This might account for Sinclair’s lack of success; I didn’t see a lot of partnership between the two. I wasn’t surprised to see Maja taken off.

McLaughlin has come on since that first game. He was much more confident and assured. I don’t think he was troubled throughout the game. You could argue that this was because he was playing against a poor Shrewsbury side. I’d counter that by saying he still doesn’t have a settled back line in front of him and Shrewsbury did mount some pressure in the first half. He withstood it comfortably.

I also noticed Maguire once or twice but he wasn’t setting the place alight. He wasn’t poor – no-one was poor – but neither he or anyone else produced a game-changing through ball, or a crucial clearance for that matter. When it comes to defence I have a suspicion there was some digging in and gritty play on the far side of the pitch, and Matthews covered a lot of ground on my side alone but how they fitted together took some working out.

A solid team that played for each other would be my best judgement, and solid play was enough to get us to half time despite Shrewsbury’s best efforts.

The second half was better, thanks to two early substitutions. First Gooch came on and injected the pace, energy, bite, (pick your own positive adjective) which had not been coming from Maja. Imagine that. You’re knackered but you’ve seen off the League’s top scorer and he’s being substituted. And on in his place comes someone fast, skilful, courageous and itching to prove a point. Gooch was involved from the moment he stepped onto the pitch and immediately proved to be a handful.

The team were further bolstered when Honeyman came on for McGeady a few minutes later. Clever, I thought to myself. Bolstering midfield and ensuring the point I’m ready to take. As if I know anything! Within a minute we were 0-1 up. An og, but we deserved it for the pressure we created and the confusion we caused.

After that we controlled the game. Our changes had given us impetus Shrewsbury lacked and though they did get possession and came at us they never looked like scoring.

Jack Ross brought on O’Nien with a few minutes to go. I wondered at that, given he hasn’t done a lot and we needed to stay composed and see the game out. Could he upset the precarious balance of that midfield?

Not quite. He went forward, played some nice stuff with Gooch and picked his spot to kill any last hopes the Shrews might have had. That’ll do him some good, as it did for us in the ground.

Which brings me to the fans.

There’s video of them on our facebook page. Watch it. (Rob Harding’s is better than the one I’ve put up). I had to get a seat elsewhere and couldn’t sing and roar with them. But I should be able to do that at Accrington, my likely next game. And I will. Oh yes indeedy, I will.


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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

2 Responses to “Shrewsbury v Sunderland: The view from the middle ground” Subscribe

  1. marco October 21, 2018 at 4:13 pm #

    Looks like you were sat maybe a block or two to the right of me. We had the Shrewsbury drummer just behind us for the course of the game and this was my first match since the Oxford game.
    I thought Mclaughlin didnt have as much to do as he could of mainly due to the efforts of the two centre halves in front of him, who for my mind seemed to throwing themselves at and in the way of everything. Maja was well…Maja as he has been when Ive seen him most times this season, the guy dosnt show a lot then suddenly scores a goal. McGeady dosnt quite seem to be up to match speed yet, while Cattermole looked back to his best. The standout player though was Gooch when he came on, a true impact sub performance giving his 90 mins worth of energy in a 30 min spell, the whole team shifted up a couple of gears and went from scrappy to taking charge of the match.

    Incidentally did anyone notice what could be taken for gamesmanship by Shrewsbury in the pre-match warmup? First when the Sunderland players were going through a short passing drill in front of me, the Shrews keeper took to practising long kicks to one of his players who deliberately walked into the midst of the Sunderland players to receive the long upfield punts. Then the Shrews groundsman decided to turn on the pitch sprinkler again right by the Sunderland players in the Sunderland half of the pitch? He didnt turn on any of the other sprinklers, not in the Shrews half while their players warmed up, just by the Sunderland team. Bit naughty I thought.
    Given where i live my next game is likely to be a trip to the Wham stadium too, which promises to be a real eye opener. Welcome to League 1 and im loving it!

    • John Mac October 22, 2018 at 2:05 pm #

      I’d get the same block again but I’d want to sit higher up. Not only did I struggle to see the far side, towards the end Sslopians were leaving in droves and blocking my view

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